Competences: The Institute of Aquaculture is a department of the University of Stirling and its mission is to carry out research and teaching in sustainable aquaculture. It carries out research in most areas of aquaculture related science, including health and welfare, nutrition, reproduction and genetics, and aquaculture development and environmental management. The Institute has particular research interests in the development of isogenic lines and genetically defined families of fish as experimental tools.
Name of the infrastructure: Institute of Aquaculture
Location: Institute of Aquaculture and Buckieburn Research Facility (Stirling, Scotland), Machrihanish Marine Environmental Research Laboratory (Machrihanish, Argyll, Scotland).
Website address: www.aqua.stir.ac.uk & www.fishresearch.co.uk
Contact: David Penman
The Institute of Aquaculture provides extensive laboratory and experimental facilities capable of supporting research in most fields of aquaculture science. Our facilities are closely integrated increasing the potential for interdisciplinary research to support the development of sustainable
aquaculture. The Institute’s strength lies in the combination of first class laboratory facilities with staff internationally recognised for their research, and all types of fish-keeping facilities, both marine and freshwater, cold and warmwater.
Fish keeping facilities include:
Machrihanish Marine Environmental Laboratory is a marine facility containing ca 150 tanks providing 375m2 experimental area. Tanks vary in size from 1-10m2 and are suitable for research on all sizes of fish from fry to broodstock. There is a marine fish hatchery with live feed production and an isolation unit capable of experimental studies on EU – host 2 pathogens.
Species held on site include salmon, cod and sea bass. There is a filtered sea water supply and temperature and photoperiod controlled systems are available. Machrihanish is suitable for research into fish reproduction, genetics, nutrition, physiology, larval rearing and fish health, including studies on vaccines and fish health.
The Stirling campus offers a warm water facility containing genetically defined tilapia, catfish and Danio strains held in 20 self-contained warm-water recirculation systems; a self-contained chronobiology facility; and a freshwater disease challenge aquarium with ca. 150 tanks of 10- 1600L volume, with temperature and lighting control, which is expressly designed for fish health research with EU list 2 pathogens.
Close to the Stirling campus there is the freshwater Buckieburn Experimental Facility containing 216m2 of tank space suitable for genetics, reproductive and nutritional studies on salmonids.
Experimental studies at these fish keeping facilities are supported by extensive laboratory and analytical facilities. A total of 1254m2 of laboratory space is available allocated between four main research areas: fish health and welfare, genomics and reproduction, nutrition, and aquaculture development and environmental management.
Available equipment includes fluorescent, confocal and electron microscopy, histology, culture facilities for viruses and bacteria, preparation of test vaccines including recombinant monoclonal antibody preparation, serology, in-situ hybridization, image
analysis, gene cloning and sequencing, gel electrophoresis (including 2D gel), radioimmunoassay, DNA microassays, large insert gene libraries, bioinformation capability, HPLC, gas and thin-layer chromatography, GC mass spectrometry, amino-acid analysis, high resolution desitometry, feed preparation, CHSNc analysis, AA spectrophotometry, and Coulter counter. There is also access to Illumina MiSeq Next Generation Sequencing.
The range of equipment available, together with experienced support staff, allows visitors using fish keeping facilities to gain maximum advantage whilst at the Institute.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
The Institute offers access to all laboratory, aquarium, challenge and ancillary facilities to visitors, with full technical and administrative support. The range and quality of research undertaken at the Institute, together with a large cohort of younger, dynamic researchers, provides a very supportive and stimulating environment for visiting researchers. Notable achievements include: development of commercial and trial vaccines against fish pathogens; development of diagnostic reagents, chemotherapeutants and genetic probes against fish pathogens; selective improvement programmes based on genetic and genomic technologies; development of cloned lines of fish; improved polyunsaturated fatty acid nutrition of marine fish larval feeds and antioxidant protection; fish oil substitutions in salmonid diets; and evaluation of the mechanisms underlying the control of sexual maturation in salmonids and marine finfish. In collaboration with visiting scientists, Institute staff has a number of notable achievements across a range of research areas. These include:
- Successful development of commercial and trial vaccines against a number of fish pathogens
- Development of diagnostic reagents and genetic probes against fish pathogens
- Development of welfare indications for fish
- Development of chemotherapeutants
- Modelling of the fate of aquaculture effluents
- Genetic control of biotransformation enzyme systems
- Development of selective improvement programmes based on genetic markers
- Development of isogenic lines of fish species
- Evaluation of the mechanisms underlying the control of reproduction and smolting in salmonids and cod and their application in aquaculture
- Improved polyunsaturated fatty acid nutrition of marine fish larval feeds and antioxidant protection
- Fish oil substitutions in salmonid diets
- Application of GIS modelling for aquaculture development
The Institute plays host to a range of national and international visitors per annum who stay to carry out research for periods ranging from 5-90 days. All TNA from FP7-AQUAEXCEL was utilised.
Modality of access
Users will identify their own research projects and will be supported in carrying them out independently if they so wish. The senior scientists within each Institute of Aquaculture research group will, in discussion with applicants, determine whether the available facilities are appropriate for the planned research. If appropriate facilities are available the most suitable time for the visit will be determined given the needs of the visiting researcher, other demands on the facilities and staff, and the degree of support required.
Each user will receive access to all necessary live animals, equipment and consumables to complete their research project, as agreed in their project proposal. In addition, users will be provided with any necessary technical assistance, training and advice on methodologies, experimental design and data analysis. Users will have full access to computing and office facilities, and will also be able to obtain use of all normal university central facilities. Users may be able to combine access to IOA with access to other infrastructures if this increases complementarity. Users may also be able to access remote facilities, including commercial aquaculture sites, research vessels, or other laboratories.
Every effort will be made to accommodate visits at times suitable for applicants and when facilities, experimental animals and staff are available. In most cases we have found that visiting scientists wish to undertake joint research with Institute of Aquaculture staff and that this collaboration will often continue beyond IHP programs, thus further developing networks of European researchers in aquaculture. In our experience the great majority of IHP visitors to the Institute have carried out research which has led to substantial publications in peer-reviewed journals. In addition visits often lead to further more extensive collaborations with Institute staff, thus promoting closer networking within the European research area.
Institute of Aquaculture hosts a large number of visiting researchers and is therefore experienced in providing support and assistance particularly to younger researchers. All visiting scientists are attached to a senior member of staff who assists them in developing their research and dealing with administrative matters. As necessary, other staff will be allocated to help with general scientific matters and laboratory and aquarium work. Specialist technical assistance is available in all areas, including aquaria.
In most cases we have found that visiting scientists wish to undertake joint research with Institute staff and that this collaboration will often continue into the future thus promoting closer networking within the European research area. In our experience the great majority of visitors to the Institute have carried out research which has led to publications in international peer-reviewed journals.
The Institute has hosted many visiting scientists and is therefore experienced in providing support and assistance particularly to Early Career researchers. All visiting scientists are attached to a senior member of staff who assists them in developing their research and dealing with administrative matters. In general visitors will be invited to work in one of the five active groups that cover most aspects of research devoted to developing a sustainable aquaculture sector globally. Depending on the nature of the study we can offer multidisciplinary research collaboration opportunities that are unavailable in many other Institutions. With many existing programs in place we can attach visiting scientists to work alongside Institute staff with training skills in the required techniques as well as access to a wider network of collaborators. When the academic support and training, specialist fish holding facilities, defined fish strains, and well equipped modern laboratories focused on specific research themes are combined, the visiting scientist is getting a worldclass research experience moulded to their exact requirements.
Visiting researchers have full on-line access and other office facilities, including telephone, fax and photocopier. Visitors also have access to central university computing and library facilities. Visitors are encouraged to present seminars on their research and to participate in the Institute’s ongoing program. Most institute and university facilities are available on a 7 day week basis, although some procedures may need to be restricted for safety reasons.
Unit of Access
Unit of Access is defined as one person per week meaning giving access to the 150 tanks (size from 1-10m2) at Machrihanish Marine Environmental Research Laboratory and the Institute of Aquaculture to carry out laboratory and aquarium based studies on all sizes of fish from fry to broodstock and/or to the 216m2 of tank space at freshwater Buckieburn Experimental Facility to carry out genetics, reproductive and nutritional studies on salmonids.
A typical project is 7 weeks for one person. Experience has shown that visits under previous the previous Infrastructure programs last from 2-13 weeks with an average length of 7 weeks. Visits have taken place across the whole range of Institute of Aquaculture facilities but it is anticipated that a research group will not host more than two visitors at any one time.